LeBron James scored 37 points as the Miami Heat beat the Dallas Mavericks 105-94 on opening day of the National Basketball Association season.
James finished with 10 rebounds and six assists for the Heat, who are favored to win the NBA title by Las Vegas bookmakers.
Yesterday’s games began a NBA season that started 54 days later than originally scheduled following a work stoppage that yielded a new 10-year collective bargaining agreement between the league and its players. The season was shortened to 66 games per team from the typical 82.
In other NBA action, Carmelo Anthony hit a pair of free throws with 16 seconds remaining to lead the New York Knicks to a 106-104 victory over the Boston Celtics.
Anthony scored 17 of his 37 points in the fourth quarter and added eight rebounds for the Knicks. Rajon Rondo finished with 31 points and 13 assists for the Celtics, who played without an injured Paul Pierce.
The Chicago Bulls, led by reigning league Most Valuable Player Derrick Rose, beat the Los Angeles Lakers 88-87 on Rose’s shot with 4.8 seconds remaining; the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Orlando Magic 97-89; and Chris Paul helped the Los Angeles Clippers beat the Golden State Warriors 105-86.
Paul, who formerly played for the league-owned New Orleans Hornets, was headed to the Lakers earlier this month in a three-team trade with the Houston Rockets. The deal was vetoed by league Commissioner David Stern, bringing to light potential conflicts of having a franchise owned by the league’s other 29 owners and overseen by the league. Stern later signed off on Paul’s trade to the Clippers, who like the Lakers call the Staples Center their home.
The league locked out the players on July 1, leading to a 161-day work stoppage that caused the NBA to shorten its schedule for the second time in its 66-year history. A 1998-99 lockout led to a 50-game season that began in February 1999.
The Heat, anchored by former league MVPs LeBron James and Dwyane Wade as well as All-Star Chris Bosh, are 2-1 favorites to claim the NBA championship this season, according to Las Vegas Sports Consultants, which advises Nevada sports books on setting gambling lines.
The Lakers are second-favorites at around 4-1, followed by the Thunder (5-1), Bulls (6-1) and Mavericks (8-1), all teams that were in action yesterday.
That the Mavericks are fifth-favorites to repeat as NBA champions is only partially due to the fact that Tyson Chandler, who averaged 10.1 points and 9.4 rebounds per game last season, left to join the Knicks, according to Andrew Patterson, an oddsmaker for Las Vegas Sports Consultants.
“I don’t know if it’s the loss of Tyson Chandler or more that people think the Mavericks just had a magical run last season,” Patterson said in a telephone interview.
The Knicks, with Chandler joining All-Stars Amar’e Stoudemire and Anthony, are receiving title-winning odds from 15-1 to 20-1 at most sports books, as are the Clippers now that Paul has joined All-Star Blake Griffin, Patterson said.